In 2005, everyone in the whole of Iraq wanted to leave except for me! I was only in Year 9, but I knew I wanted to be a doctor, and I thought it would be too hard to study in a different language if we were resettled in a Western country.
Studying was my life. At that time, we had no electricity, and I used to go up on the roof at 4 am every day to wait for the sun to rise so I could squeeze in a couple of hours of study before school.
I went to a very selective school in Bagdhad, the best in the country, but it was next to an Iraqi military checkpoint, so it used to get bombed all the time. One time, during a biology exam, there were some people wanted by the US army running over the roof of our school, so they just started bombing the whole thing. First, all the windows shattered, and then there was a lot of noise and smoke. I remember everyone was really scared, but I was just trying to find my teacher to ask her if we were going to get a re-sit or not!
My parents were from the upper middle class in Iraq, so they could afford a driver to take me to school, but my mum would feel hugely stressed every day until I got home. I remember one time we actually had to zig zag between dead bodies, it was that bad. Then the driver said, ‘Just 3 more days until your exams are finished and I’m not going to take you anymore.’ Soon after, my parents said, ‘That’s it, we’re going to Jordan.’ It was a 12 hour journey to Jordan and I remember I cried the whole time!
One day, a teacher in Jordan told me that if I went as a refugee to a Western country, they wouldn’t look at any of my previous school work, and that I would have to start from scratch, which kept me awake at night for weeks! But that was pretty much what happened. When we arrived, I was 17, but I was told I would have to study English for 12 months, and then repeat year 11. I worked very hard at teaching myself English, so I only had to stay for 3 months at the English school, but high school was totally intimidating, because the education system was completely different. For example, I had never had to do a speech before, and I was told to do one after only 2 months in the school. That was one of the scariest moments of my life. After that, going to school became kind of a chore, but I finally finished.
I wanted to go into Dentistry, but didn’t get the score I needed, so I went into a fast-tracked Medical Science degree, finishing in 2 and a bit years instead of 3. Now I’m in my second year of Dentistry, which I love, and I’m counting the days until I’ll be able to treat patients and give back to this country, which has given me so much.
Find out more about the New Humans of Australia project here:
www.patreon.com/nicolagray?ty=h (or if this link doesn’t work, please google ‘nicola gray patreon’)
#refugees #migrants #Australia #Iraq
Congratulations Aya, what amazing resilience! I’m sure you are a role model to all the girls around you. Australia is lucky to have you.
Wow! Good on you Aya! Your story is inspiring and I’m sure only the beginning of great things to come. Your parents must be very proud of you
How lucky for us that such a smart, driven woman has joined us here! Welcome Aya, and I hope you achieve your dreams.
Dodging dead bodies to get to and from a school that gets bombed. That’s something nobody should ever have to do, and is the sort of thing that anti-refugee people conveniently ignore. Welcome to Australia, Aya, and I hope you build a good life.
You amaze me. I would say I hope all your dreams come true but it sounds like you are the kind of person who will work hard to make sure they do, which is the only way to do it. You should be proud of yourself. I hope you have many happy years living here with us.
Hey good on YOU Aya. I am a teacher and I wish Aussie kids and their parents valued education as much as you!
You are an inspiration to us all and I wish you a beautiful life and career in Australia ❤️
Aya, we are proud of you and welcome you warmly to Australia. You have got your wished dream. Well done! Wish you all possible best in future ahead of you in Australia.
Aya your true grit is shown when school became a chore but you finished. Too many Aussie kids quit because it’s a chore. I hope they read this and follow your example ????
Well done Aya, you have set an amazing example,welcome to Australia and all the best with your studies.
Congratulations Aya and welcome. Huge respect for your perseverance and determination. I hope the future holds many good things for you.
You sound like such a passionate & intelligent person.
Well done for achieving your goals despite all the obstacles in your path, both in Iraq and again here in Australia xx
Thank you for sharing your story Aya. Best of luck with the remainder of your studies. We are very privileged to have you here and giving back to the community. Best wishes ????
When ever I read these stories, the determination of these young refugees is inspiring, Aya is a real role model, I hope that my children are as determined as her.
I’m glad your hard work is paying off! Congratulations on your success, I’m sure you’ll make a fine dentist.
I’m in and awe of all refugees such as yourself I don’t believe I could have done what you are doing and certainly not as well All the best for the future and welcome ????????????
Congratulations Aya and I admire your determination and resilience. I wish you success and happiness always. Thank you for sharing your story.
You are a very strong woman Aya. All the best with the rest of your studies, though a woman as brave and intelligent as you will definitely succeed. Also, may I just say you are absolutely beautiful on the outside too.
What a brave strong woman you are … The very people we need in Australia . Good luck in all you do …
Nicola Gray : this is just amazing work, to bring such inspiring and incredible stories to light, to encourage empathy, compassion, understanding, tolerance. More power to you …… I hope your project just grows and grows.
Keep in mind, everyone – had Aya and her family arrived after july 18 2013, they’d all still be on Nauru.
Reem Kamil I wanna meet her! And tell her that her story is going to be my inspiration throughout my journey in Dentistry!
Well done Aya Al Dawoodi you make us all proud. good on you @new humans of australia and Nicola for this beautiful initiative.
Inspirational! I will be sharing this with my students in my Y10 GCSE science class on Tuesday. Anything is possible with a fierce heart xxx
Aya Al Dawoodi just read this! this is such an amazing story! you should be proud of what you have achieved to date 🙂